How did you get introduced to Focusmate?

I was reading an article on BBC News, and they were talking about how to beat procrastination, and they mentioned Focusmate.

How long you’ve been using Focusmate?

So, I joined maybe a month and a half, but I start I become a paid member about maybe three, four weeks ago.

And how many sessions you do a week?

I would say maybe. Maybe 15, I had 60 sessions within three weeks, so I do quite a lot.

And how do you find using Focusmate? I think it’s helpful because I get some idea of how long it takes to do a task. And eventually, I realise I do more work than I think I do because stuff takes a bit longer than I think it does to do. Also, if I do a task and finish in the allotted time, I realize I can do things to improve upon the work, or I can add things; I think it’s improved my work on certain tasks. Does that make sense?

Yes, it makes sense. Well, so what was the question? (note to self as an interviewer, don’t try to add too much after the question otherwise, the person will forget what you started with, plus it’s difficult to work out where the observation and the question overlap!!).

What has your personal experience of Focusmate been?

I mean, I find it keeps me focussed every time I do it, almost always. I get the work done. I realize people are having the same difficulties as me, doing their tasks and keeping themselves motivated. So, it has a positive value in terms of being more focused.

If I don’t use it, as was the case in the past because I didn’t know this existed. What I find my day becomes empty. But since I used it, I find I’m quite busy. It seems like I have met many people. I talked with a lot of people. Just having that moment of a few minutes’ interaction can make a huge difference.

I find that I’m more I feel like I’m accountable to someone. So, if I’m doing the task and I have a notification that pops up on my laptop, I won’t look at it, I might kind of glance at it, but I won’t deal with it until after the actual session.

Yeah, I feel the same is very mixed, very accountable to whatever you need to do. I agree. I feel the same.

 I mean, how do you feel about the system? Well, my what? I’ve done it. I’ve had enough. And they tend to get replaced because you can replace someone, with a click of a button, and replace the person within a few minutes. 

Oh, I found the system efficient. The algorithm works well. I never had a situation where it failed. So, I think they claim over a 99 percent match all the time. I haven’t had a situation where I didn’t get a Focus mate, sometimes they get replaced, but that’s how things are. If someone doesn’t turn up, you have the choice of trying to find someone else.

And it happened once. And I managed to be then matched again with another person. The system works well.

I talked to another person and said basically that half the time people didn’t turn up, but they quickly found a replacement. Is there anything else you’d like to say about Focusmate?

I think that everyone should try me work for some people. Yeah, I like the fact it’s so international you can meet people from everywhere and sometimes you have a chat for a few minutes. Even today, I had a few people I had this chat with this guy from New York who is doing a PhD like me. And we had a 15-minute chat afterward. I mean, that’s not the idea to network. But I had a chat with a few people. I had a conversation with another guy that studies in the same university as me in a completely different department.

I talked with this lady from Germany that was living in Bulgaria for 20 minutes, It sometimes makes your day, especially if you don’t have a lot of communication with lots of people.

You talked about people from your department and had a chat with people after you’ve had the session.

Yeah, it was great, I mean, like, I kind of I didn’t network with anyone, but I felt a connexion with some people there. I mean, the more you do it, you realise you get in touch with fascinating people.

I met people from Netherlands. I met, like, for example, a guy that was in doing a Ph.D. in drag queens and drag history in Britain. Well, he was a drag queen. It was super interesting.

I met a young Bulgarian German woman, med students, and Ph.D. students. Last Friday, I was working in the session with a clinician, a clinician in the US.

So, I mean, I was it was five pm here. And she was like there in the morning, and she was doing a job, and I was doing my job was incredible.

I’ve met a few interesting people, I didn’t really talk to the first few people after the session, but then I started to have a bit of a conversation afterward.

Like what?

There’s this one person who’s translating from Japanese English and quite impressed because I think Japanese is a complicated language; I attempted to learn Chinese. And I did a term of it. And I was hopeless lost (Asian languages are tricky as they are so different from English-anyone who learns an Asian language when they have a romance language as their first language is impressive in my book). 

It’s kind of interesting to hear what other people are doing. 

How many sessions have you done?

I think its about three. 

I’ve done about four, and I think. 

That’s not a lot

Not many I just started like a week or so ago. I’m going to get addicted now.

Yeah, it’s I mean, I find it very useful because I’m doing a Ph.D., and it helps me a lot and gets me to be accountable. At least I have someone even to say hi.

So, the matching thing do you generally get to people who do similar stuff to you then.

No, no. I get matched with all sorts of people.

Often, I end up being matched with people with whom I share a lot of things in common. I have like to teach the students. There’s lots of students, lots of students, lots.

And there’s also lots of like consultants. But there have been people a lot different from me, for example, an electrician, a lawyer. Someone I was matched with for the session their task was to have a shower.

To have a shower?

Yeah, because they probably had depression. And so the goal was they haven’t had a shower for quite some time. So, the goal was to achieve the task. And by the end of each session, they managed to accomplish the task. There was another person; the task was to read something and memorize a few things. I don’t know what it was exactly. Some people use it to exercise.


So Yeah, exactly. You can use it for anything you can say. Well, I’m going to exercise to do a workout session. You don’t have to be in front of the camera.

I was going to say, not sure about exercising in front of the camera.

Yes, you can. That’s what people do. But you don’t always have to be in front of the camera say you have to do some tasks like cleaning. You may not be on the camera all the time.

There was a girl who had to do this task, and it was something like a chemistry project or something, and you know, she had she was sharing a story because there’s an option where you can share your screen. And so, I was not looking at what she was doing, but the fact she was sharing the screen gave her a sense of accountability, that she was accountable because someone was looking at what she was doing. So, she had to do something. She was rushing to do whatever she had to do. And so, yeah, she was sharing on screen so you could watch the work she was doing as if someone was spying on her to make sure she had to.

Interesting. I didn’t meet one person who was using flashcards is kind of quite similar to the sort of thing you talk about, memorising stuff. They were writing their flashcards.

I’ve been like with all sorts of people from all over the world for you.

How would you say it’s increased your productivity? Do you work more hours or just have a lot more focus on the hours you do work?

I work more hours because it motivates me to do them because otherwise, I would have a break every 20 minutes, and now, I have a break every 50 minutes. And sometimes I feel, you know, let’s see how much we can do within 50 minutes. Sometimes I even rush because I want to say to the person, I have achieved the goal.

So, its a bit of both being more time doing an activity and sometimes being more productive and humanised. Meaning is not like these apps that count the time. There is the human element to it, which to me is very important.

Anything else you want to add about Focusmate?

The only way you can understand this by doing it is by doing it a lot. So, when you do maybe like nine sessions on a day in a day or five sessions and do it for a few days, and you will see a huge difference.

You will see what I mean because I think doing it only occasionally, you don’t feel the palpable effects of what I mean by doing it, the magic.

So, I was amazed. I mean, it seems like it has been around since 2016.

And there is a very active Facebook group.

Yeah, there’s not much more to say. The proof is in the pudding.

The other thing I wanted to say that I like about Focusmate. And I was thinking about this today. I find Zoom and Microsoft teams and all these other companies that to teleconference like awkward.

You have to download an app, and you have to install it on your computer.

And I found like Focusmate is such a simple idea it’s on the browser. I mean, I think this is the type of future you want everything through the browser. It’s just a simple system and works. I wish they had more of the system where everyone can join the browser. And it works its, simplicity, effective simplicity, it’s also quite reliable.

I know what you mean; sometimes zoom is so unreliable. 

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